CVS Health reported an 8.1% hike in its first-quarter earnings over the same period in 2014, driven largely by a strong sales of expensive specialty medications.
The company earned $1.2 billion for the quarter ended March 31, compared with $1.1 billion in the first quarter of 2014.
Sales from its pharmacy benefit-management business rose by $3.7 billion to $23.9 billion, which the company stated was primarily fueled by an increase in specialty pharmacy and pharmacy network claims. Those claims grew 11% to more than 230 million for the quarter.
“We delivered better-than-expected results this quarter, primarily driven by stronger-than-expected prescription volumes, as well as favorable purchasing and rebate economics in the PBM,” CVS President and CEO Larry Merlo said in a news release.
Increased sales in CVS' mail-order and retail-pharmacy businesses helped offset declining sales outside the pharmacy, which fell by 6.1%.
The company raised the low end of its guidance range for the full year 2015 from $5.05 to $5.19 earnings per share, to $5.08 to $5.15. For more than a year, the company has been rebranding itself to be seen as more of a health provider, which prompted its decision to change its name from CVS Caremark, and to stop selling tobacco products at its more than 7,800 stores beginning last September.